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» Frank Ocean Can Fly - NYTimes.com Artists...

Mar 03, 2013

» Frank Ocean Can Fly - NYTimes.com

Artists don’t usually give satisfying answers to the question of how or why they do what they do, and maybe that’s for the best. Sometimes songs mean more to us when we don’t totally grasp the lyrics. Ocean is acutely aware of this. He knows that, as much as anything, he is selling an idea. “That’s why image is so important,” he said. “That’s why you’ve got to practice brevity when you do interviews like this. I could try to make myself likable to you so you could write a piece that keeps my image in good standing, because I’m still selling this, or I could just say, ‘My art speaks for itself.’ ” He practices brevity in most things. He curates and updates his image on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr deftly and consistently, but he never overshares. “As a writer, as a creator, I’m giving you my experiences,” he said in the GQ interview. “But just take what I give you. You ain’t got to pry beyond that.” To me, he said, “I don’t know if it’s a shield or whatever, but I want to deflect as much as I can onto my work.”

Ocean’s Tumblr is interesting — I love how he’ll post screenshots of his writing instead of actually posting the writing. (As I’ve said before, pictures of writing often spread around the internet faster than writing itself.)

I like this idea of using Tumblr as something more cryptic than outright confession or revelation. Michael Stipe on his:

It’s not confessional at all. I just like to tunnel. Initially the idea was to present a version of myself that might not be the person that people think they know. So it’s a little bit of a play on my being a public figure for as long as I have been…. It might be a bit of an introduction to the way I visually interpret the world. I work visually, and this is essentially an electronic scrapbook, that’s what tumblr’s good for. You know, it’s like a stamp collection, but everyone’s allowed to cull from each other’s collection.

It reminds me of the old Radiohead websites — they were really great at just giving you these little pieces, and you felt like a detective, trying to piece together some picture of what they were working on…

Maybe Robin Sloan said it best: “Work in public. Reveal nothing.”

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  5. thefollowingisforreferenceonly reblogged this from austinkleon and added:
    Nailed it.
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